Living in a White Christian Body: Understanding Limitations to Faith-Based Antiracism Work

“… project asks: How do white Christians with a commitment to social justice and faith-based antiracism respond to critical examinations of whiteness? ”

Team Members/Contributors

Lenore M Knight Johnson Trinity Christian College Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

Predominantly white and multiracial denominations and congregations have moved toward greater participation in racial justice efforts, standing in solidarity with congregations and Christians of color working against systemic racism. Amid these efforts, this proposed project examines how white Christians participating in faith-based antiracism work through their churches understand and critically examine what it means to live in a white, Christian body while pursuing racial justice. Using a qualitative approach, I will conduct in-depth interviews with white Christians from social justice oriented, mainline churches in three cities - Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Portland, Oregon. The open-ended interview questions will explore how people engage with critical discussions on whiteness and how being white matters in faith-based antiracism work. The goal is not to prove or disprove a specific hypothesis, but rather to explore the intersections of faith based social justice and whiteness among both clergy and laypeople, identify limitations in antiracism work, and develop effective resources for congregations and people of faith to move forward effectively in our evolving social and political context. Drawing from sociological research on barriers to antiracism work, this study will also consider ways white people – in failing to critically engage how whiteness matters – may unintentionally reproduce racial inequality. This study adds to the expansive body of sociological research on race and religion, further exploring the role of white Christians in challenging racism amid the deep divisions in American society around race. Beyond this, the project seeks to provide valuable insight and resources for Christian leaders and laypeople striving to discover the most effective and lasting means of dismantling racism and systemic injustices from a faith perspective.